If you have a local library, you may well be used to visiting and borrowing books from it. But, did you know that there are many titles available to borrow as digital works? All you need is your library card, and a little app called Overdrive Media Console.
As well as borrowing written works, you can also borrow audiobooks, just as you would in person. The main difference is that with digital borrowing the digital title will check itself back in automatically and there are never any late fees.
So, grab your library card and follow us through a little walk-through of Overdrive Media Console.
Register to Begin
There are more than 18,000 libraries now available for digital loans, and to access the content you will need a valid library card. If you haven’t already got a library card, I strongly encourage you to visit your nearest library with a digital collection and sign up — it really is worth it.
One other registration step required is to associate Overdrive Media Console with your Adobe ID. If you don’t already have an Adobe ID, you will need one as you are prompted to register so that you can read books in the Adobe ePub digital edition format. Once these two elements are complete, you are ready to add a library and begin your journey into the easy world of digital loans.
Add A Library
Tap Get Books + and then tap Add a Library +. You can search by the name, city or postal code of the library, or browse to see what’s available.
Once selected, each library has a unique collection of books that has been selected to most appeal to its local residents, just as you would expect from an equivalent bricks-and-mortar library.
Browse The Collection
You can browse to see what’s available, or conduct simple author and title searches to pinpoint a specific work. You can also conduct more advanced searches — focusing on a specific genre or target audience — or simply seeing what has been most recently added to the collection.
I liked the search function, but there were many titles that I was hoping to find that are not available to borrow as of yet, possibly because they are too recent to have reached library stock. If you find this the case, you can elect to add a suggestion for the book to be included in the digital collection right from within the app.
You can elect to add a suggestion for the book to be included in the digital collection right from within the app.
If you find a book but its already on loan, you can be added to the queue for later borrowing. You receive an automatic alert e-mail when it next becomes available and all you have to do is ensure that you have checked the book out within 3 days of being notified.
More Books — For Free!
Thanks to the might of Project Gutenberg, there are a whole host of other titles available immediately on offer. There are also no restrictions on the length of time you can have these for. Scroll down to the bottom of the main book selection area and select the Additional eBooks option. All of the books are in the public domain, and many have had specific enhancements to make reading them digitally a pleasure.
Once you have selected your books of interest, you add them to a basket, much like a digital book retail store, and then check them out.
Read A Book
This whole process can be quite absorbing — reading the blurb on many books before deciding which one will occupy your time in the coming days. Electronic books, by their very nature, are small in size and can be downloaded really quickly, so you can dive straight into your new titles.
The reading interface is much like we’ve come to expect from an iPad reading app — with clean page transitions and options to change the font, layout and style of text. I noticed that in the books I chose to download, none of the pictures inside of them were in colour when I began to start reading. I’m not sure if this is a setting I need to change, or the default for electronic books through this app.
Listen To A Book
If sitting down and reading is not to your liking, you should perhaps investigate the many audiobooks that are available to borrow. After my recent experiences with Audible for iPad, it was interesting to try out another audiobook interface. Overdrive was pleasing and did work as expected, although I did have the occasional issue resuming where I left off when the app had been closed, even if I placed a bookmark there.
After several hours of uninterrupted listening, towards the end of my audiobook The Amateur, the title skipped back almost a whole chapter without warning, and it was only when I recognised the re-reading of the chapter that I had to stop playback and scrub along to the end of the audiobook. It played fine till the end, but it was most confusing for a moment or two.
Talk About A Book
If you like the title you have been reading and feel the urge to share it, then you can e-mail it, tweet it, update Facebook with it or add a review on Goodreads from within the app. I rely on customer reviews in shops like Amazon to inform my purchase decisions, and Overdrive Media Console also has a built-in rating system for books so you can get an instant feel for other people’s recommendations.
Return A Book
Once you have finished reading or listening, then you can return the book. If you get to the end of your loan period, the title automatically returns to the library when it expires in the app, so you never end up paying any late fees. There’s even a handy countdown clock built into the app so you know how long you have to read or listen before the title expires.
If you have an older version of the app, then be sure to update to version 2.6.4 as this has a fix that allows your library card to be remembered. You will need to delete your App Cookies from the Settings menu and re-type your library card number once again to ensure this feature works as intended. Checking out and returning books should then be much quicker and seamless.
Once you are used to using Overdrive Media Console, you will appreciate the book collections recommended by your library. It’s a great way to broaden your reading horizons, and once the registration work is done, very little effort too.
I thoroughly recommend you try this excellent app and support your local library in the process. I would imagine that as more titles get added and converted to digital format, that this will become the standard way to lend library books.